Blog

Providing thought-provoking leadership, workplace and community insights.

Labor Day: Time to Focus on Physical and Mental Health

  • Published
  • 3 September 2021
  • Category
  • General

We celebrate the accomplishments of American workers annually on Labor Day. On Sept. 6, some of us will hit the pause button and take time to contemplate the meaning of work.

You may have noticed our WorkCare logo has a tagline: Work Matters. Health Counts. Why? Because we believe job satisfaction – a feeling that what we do makes a difference – is essential to physical and mental well-being.

We know that working nourishes health and expedites recovery, and employment provides a sense of purpose and stability. When an injured employee is unnecessarily put off work, the opportunity to use temporarily modified tasks and social interaction with co-workers as paths to healing is lost.

As we continue to slog through the pandemic, the need for employers to support employees’ physical and mental health is acute. Persistent stressful conditions associated with the COVID-19 era have serious health and safety consequences in the workplace:

  • Exposure to prolonged stress is associated with the development of mental exhaustion, or burnout.
  • Mental exhaustion causes physical and emotional symptoms and changes in behavior.
  • Burnout is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and suppressed immunity.

Mental exhaustion develops in response to work overload, lack of personal control, and experiences and emotions in relation to the work being done. Signs of burnout include depleted energy, growing mental distance or negative attitude toward one’s job, and reduced professional efficiency or productivity. Emotional signs and symptoms include depression, anxiety, apathy, anger, indecision and pessimism. Physical signs include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, body aches, weight changes and insomnia. Behavioral signs include work absence, presenteeism, social isolation and substance abuse.

Grokker’s 2021 Working Americans’ State of Stress Report refers to survey findings in which 48 percent of respondents cited increased consumption of unhealthy foods, 42 percent decreased physical activity, and 25 percent increased use of alcohol or other substances in response to stress.

Any of this sound familiar to you?

10 Tips

To help employees effectively manage stress and remain fully engaged in their work, we’ve compiled 10 Labor Day tips:

  1. Talk to a mental health professional if you feel you are having difficulty coping.
  2. Sleep seven to nine hours per day and encourage others to do the same.
  3. Get moderate exercise to reduce injury risk and maintain cardiovascular fitness and flexibility.
  4. Take breaks to do an activity you enjoy, be outdoors or just relax. Shut off electronics for a while.
  5. Track how you feel after eating certain foods and adjust your diet. If you drink alcohol, monitor consumption. Avoid smoking; nicotine is a stimulant.
  6. Organize your day into manageable components. Delegate and ask for help when you need it.
  7. Identify ways you are not achieving your personal goals and redirect your path.
  8. Do whatever you can to create safe work and home environments.
  9. Treat mental health as a high priority, the same as you should for your physical health.
  10. Consider the big picture. Risk for mental exhaustion increases when personal and professional expectations are unrealistic.

Ignoring symptoms of burnout or trying to push through mental exhaustion has emotional and physical consequences. If you can, use Labor Day to take a step back, re-evaluate and then re-engage.

Don’t Miss Out

When you subscribe, you’ll receive periodic updates on our news, publications and events!